Comments on: more “spam” from me Blog, news, books Thu, 12 Oct 2017 08:56:00 +0000 hourly 1 By: Web Help Desk 360 Mon, 17 Jun 2013 07:50:16 +0000 We provide you creative solutions with reasonable cost. Our Services : Web Development, Graphic Design, Logo Design, Content Writing and Management System, Website Maintenance, Search Engine Optimization, and Online Marketing and much more.

By: Josh Stratton Thu, 03 Mar 2005 07:00:22 +0000 Simon:
Damned if I know. I was talking about this today, and the closest approximation (aside from after the fact opt outs) would seem to be to include some reasonable notice in your email address, since it couldn’t possibly be redacted for sending without the redactor having at least constructive knowledge.

The ultimate answer would be to redesign email, but I don’t like where this leads in terms of that it opens the door for people to redesign the free wheeling internet into something more like AOL. On the whole, if spam is a side effect of being able to do things on the net without some entity overseeing people’s behavior, I’ll put up with the spam. It can still be filtered or deleted. Getting spam is not like dragging a cross around.

By: Simon Wed, 02 Mar 2005 06:14:41 +0000 Josh wrote: “If someone doesn’t want to be communicated with, it’s their responsibility to provide reasonable advance notice of this, such as by setting up clearly visible ‘no solicitors’ signs. “

Can you explain how I could do this in the email environment?

I think Mark Murphy said it best. It’s not the content, it’s the form that matters. (Granted, if I’d recieved one of these emails from Prof Lessig, in this situation, I probably wouldn’t have minded too much, but in general I don’t see a difference between commercial and non-commercial spam).

By: Kenneth Loafman Mon, 28 Feb 2005 11:15:54 +0000 Even “Amber Alerts” would be considered spam if they were not solicited. The working definition of spam is “Unsolicited Bulk Email”, with emphasis on unsolicited. It has nothing to do with being commercial. Why would we want political spam? religious spam? name-your-cause spam?


By: Russell Nelson Mon, 28 Feb 2005 02:26:50 +0000 Larry, it doesn’t matter if the email is commercial or not. What matters is that it’s 1) bulk, and 2) unsolicited. If email has those two attributes, it’s spam. Your real faux pas is in not explaining where you got the list of email addresses. You have to say, up front, “I’m sending you this email because you sent me email about ….. If your interest in this issue has waned, please tell me and I’ll remove you from my list of interested parties.” That gives you cover of solicitedness.

At least people aren’t asking for you to resign from your leadership role, sigh.

By: Andrew Boysen Sun, 27 Feb 2005 15:56:10 +0000 To Josh Stratton:
I’m with you here,

By: Josh Stratton Sat, 26 Feb 2005 19:22:41 +0000 Meh. I wouldn’t beat myself up over it, nor do I see what the big deal is.

With regards to communication, implicit consent is the default rule. If you have a front door, you’re considered to be fine with people walking up to it, knocking, and talking to you. If you have an address, the same goes for mail. If you have a phone, the same goes for calls. Why would email be any different? If someone doesn’t want to incur the natural costs of having these avenues of communication, it’s their problem. They can always get rid of their email. Complaining that the email system does what it’s supposed to do — send and deliver email — makes no sense.

If someone doesn’t want to be communicated with, it’s their responsibility to provide reasonable advance notice of this, such as by setting up clearly visible ‘no solicitors’ signs. And even then, while the freedom of speech of the speakers certainly wouldn’t force you to accept messages in your private demenses, I find it unlikely that it would not permit them to make the attempt. They still can’t force your receipt of it, and not every single attempt will necessarily rise to the level of being some sort of offense, e.g. harassment.

The mere fact that some people are highly discriminating as to who they want to hear from should not require the world to submit to their whims. It’s no real burden at all to not open the door, to not pick up the phone, to throw out the mail, or to delete unwanted mail. If someone cannot be troubled to do that, how can they possibly have the gall to demand that the rest of the world take more significant measures to avoid imposing the most trivial of discomforts. Certainly no one is holding a gun to their heads and making them engage in conversation.

Provided it’s not misleading, and that requests to opt out are obeyed, I have no qualms with commercial spam. Nor should any spam be sent in a harassing manner.

Aside from that, however, I’m going to side with freedom of speech, and therefore spammers. The alternative, where people cannot communicate without explicit permission, is unacceptable in a free society. A free society might not be entirely convenient or enjoyable (e.g. having to put up with Illinois Nazis) but thems the breaks.

And before people go around besmirching my character, let me point out that I probably hate ads more than any of you. I filter everything pretty rigorously, even the pictures of Prof. Lessig’s books at the top of the blog page. I’ll get an augmented reality set the first instant I can, and immediately filter out ads, jingles, logos, etc. from the real world too. But my personal views simply must not be imposed on everyone else! That goes for the rest of you too. People should be free to accept ads if they like, or free to reject them if they like, and this means putting the burden on the rejectors.

So you might have committed a minor faux pas, Professor Lessig, but that’s the worst of it. I’m more upset with the rest of the folks here.

By: Danny Goodman Sat, 26 Feb 2005 14:40:00 +0000 I suspect you dodged even more bullets by being Prof. Lawrence Lessig. If the same list of recipients had signed some other petition sponsored by a less popular figure, and then received a mailing similar to yours (even with full CAN-SPAM compliance), the roof would be at a much higher altitude.

It wouldn’t surprise me if your sending IP address has found its way onto various blocklists, reported as spam by some recipients. Be prepared to have some of your mail blocked at some incoming ISPs over the next 12 to 48 hours.

With all due respect, your plea for not stigmatizing bulk email for your intended purpose has the same flavor as spammers’ justifications for ignoring the consent issue for what they send (e.g., with the possibly good and honest intention of saving the recipient money on inkjet cartridges). Even worse for your potential causes, future petitions may garner fewer signatures if you don’t include prior consent options (ideally, through a confirmed opt-in process).

By: K Sat, 26 Feb 2005 14:01:55 +0000 In my world, if an email arrives to me and it was unsolicited (I didn’t sign up for an email list), and I’m one of a zillion receipients and there is no attempt to address me as an individual, it’s spam.

I only want the following in my email box:
1) Email from friends and fmily.
2) Email from mailing lists and such that I explicitly ask for.
3) Email from “friends of friends” – i.e. I might not know them, but they have a specific reason to contact me vs the entire world “Bob told me you could help me with this” qualifies “Please random person, help us save the world” does not.

By: John Didion Sat, 26 Feb 2005 13:10:16 +0000 Good thought, James…how many people get angry at MoveOn or some other activist-oriented group for “spamming” them? Probably close to none, since it’s opt-in, and, more importantly, easy to opt out.

Why not start the Copyright Action Network (hey, it even has a decent acronym :). Set up a web site where you post action items and have a page where people can opt in/out of a mailing list that you use to announce those action items that are particularly important or urgent. You could send one last message to your current “mailing list” (after carefully processing all the unsubscribe requests) asking those who still want to receive this kind of thing to sign up for the new list.

Seems like this would solve your problems (while obviously creating the new problem of having to do the work to set up and maintain the website, but hey, isn’t that what grad students are for? :)

By: James Day Sat, 26 Feb 2005 12:21:41 +0000 Your email wasn’t UCE. It was possibly spam, which includes all unsolicited bulk solicitations, not just UCE. Whether it was spam or not depends on the disclosed purpose at the time the email addresses were collected and whether your mailing was for that purpose and from the disclosed sender.

Since the email wasn’t directly in relation to that particular petition, it seems likely that I’d consider it to be spam, even though it’s about the same general subject.

Opt out links on unsolicited bulk mail are insufficient and shouldn’t be used – they are too often used as a way to confirm that an email address is live. Don’t even think of clicking on one (and don’t expect including one to make any difference at all to whether the email is considered spam by recipients). This may be inconsistent with various laws mandating inclulsion in unsolicited email. If so, it’s unfortunate that the law is law without good basis in the reality that every small busines or poilitical group in the US sending only one such email would give a volume so large that opting out would be impractical.

Opt out links are of use for solicited emails, to indicate that consent for the solicited email has ended.

I suggest soliciting addresses for you to use for any IP-related issue which causes you to want to contact a large number of people. Remember not to use the addresses to relay solicitations from other groups – if you want to do that, better to collect an email address for that purpose, so those who want one but not the other don’t have to abstain from both.

By: jzp Sat, 26 Feb 2005 10:31:24 +0000 Mark Murphy’s first bullet is spot on.

Obviously, if you goofed and apologized then that’s the end of it, but for the part where an otherwise clued individual goes and claims that the line moved.

Spam has never been about content. Any “line moving” has been done by the spammers in the past and if you think of where *their* line is as some kind of ‘starting point’ then you are just late to the game. And yes, this includes the politicians who make up legal definitions that allow them to spam and telemarket to us.

By: David Brownridge Sat, 26 Feb 2005 10:04:21 +0000 Put it another way: did the recipients of Lessig’s bulk mail at any stage “opt in”?

(That’s not a rhetorical question: I don’t know what they thought they were signing up for when they signed the original petition.)

By: Mark Murphy Sat, 26 Feb 2005 09:26:42 +0000 Some thoughts, based solely on your description of what transpired:

  • When the people “signed a petition asking for reform of the copyright system”, did they sign up to receive future mailings on the subject? If not, what you did qualifies as spam for most people.
  • “this is the second time in almost two years that I’ve used the list” — that’s actually worse. Not only do people have to agree to future mailings, but they need to remember that they agreed to future mailings. Remember: spam (like beauty) is in the eye of the beholder. You should either set up a regular monthly or bi-monthly newsletter that you use for these mailings (so recipients are more likely to remember they’re supposed to be getting it), or simply accept that people will consider it spam.
  • “It is therefore bulk email, but not, in my view, spam” — I agree with the other commenters on this. While anti-spam legislation has focused on UCE, most long-time Internet users would consider any unsolicited bulk message to be spam, and most new Internet users would consider any mail they don’t want to get to be spam. One thing you could do to help with the last scenario is to include in your first paragraph a reminder of the nature of your relationship with the recipient (“Four score and seven weeks ago, you signed a petition I organized, asking for reform of the copyright system…”).

By: Dave Walton Sat, 26 Feb 2005 07:50:28 +0000 Lessig wrote:

Those complaints evince the unfortunate shift in meaning of the term “spam.”

I disagree that a shift in meaning has occurred. Way back when the infamous Green Card Lawyers invented major-league spam, the primary cause of protest was their global cross-posting. The commercial nature of their postings was also a grievance, but only in the sense that the subset “commercial spam” is more evil than the generic “spam”. Quite the opposite of you, I’ve always felt it unfortunate to see people shifting the meaning of spam from UBE to UCE.

we should not be stigmatizing the use of bulk mail for political or policy related purposes.

Again, I must respectfully disagree. I took no offense at your mailing, mainly because I tend to agree with your work. But I must insist that political/policy bulk mailings are still spam. Weakening my stance on that point would undermine my credibility in objecting to the infinite number of crackpot political/policy rantings that I would rather not have filling my inbox at my expense.

Really, what it comes down to is whether spam is objectionable based on delivery method (UBE) or content (UCE). I set my position firmly on delivery method, because basing it on content is the proverbial first amendment slippery slope.


By: Dave Walton Sat, 26 Feb 2005 07:23:24 +0000 James: Prof. Lessig apologized for his mistake in omitting the opt-out link, which is well and good, and nobody is lashing him for that. But he ended his apology by insisting on the legitimacy of his action in sending the emails, based on a definition of spam that is (clearly) widely disputed. THAT is what Dave and Justin were responding to, and for my part, I agree with them. And “Morons” was uncalled for.

As far as I and many others are concerned spam is Unsolicited Bulk Email. Emphasis on BULK. I don’t care whether you are trying to sell something, 419 people, phish people, save the whales, ban nukes, nuke the whales, or brag about your report card. If you are sending out thousands (or millions!) of copies, you are spamming. Period.

On the other hand, I do have two mitigating factors that I take into consideration:
1. If we have an existing relationship of some sort, and you provide me the genuine ability to opt out, it’s generally not a big deal.
2. I reserve the right to set aside my annoyance at spam on a case by case basis, depending on merit.
Prof. Lessig stumbled a bit on #1, and apologized. But it’s ok, because he was solidly protected by #2.

In summary: No harm done, but it WAS spam. :)


By: Sepp Hasslberger Sat, 26 Feb 2005 07:17:28 +0000 I got the mail and although unsolicited, I thought it was interesting. There must be many recipients who had a similar feeling and who got right down to doing something, like write to the copyright office.

What I did was post the text as a comment on a recent article on my site. The article tells about Science Commons, a new CC initiative to make exchange of scientific data easier.

I think we have to take the good with the bad. If we want free exchange of information, we can’t be too rigid on what we call spam. A good email program will filter most of it out, allowing work but also that fortuitous coincidence whereby you get information that you would never have willingly subscribed to.

By: James Sat, 26 Feb 2005 02:01:31 +0000 Jesus, Dave and Justin, grow up. Lessig made a mistake. He apologized. He practically flagellated himself over his mistake.

You guys are completely pathetic to take the whip and continue lashing him.


By: Justin Mason Sat, 26 Feb 2005 00:34:19 +0000 The definition of spam as “unsolicited commercial email” isn’t one shared universally; many of us consider unsolicited bulk email, even of a noncommercial variety, spam too.

In my spam corpus, I have:

- over 5000 virus-generated anti-immigration screeds in German from an outbreak last year;
- several spams promoting religious meetings, or just proselytising a particular faith (including the famous “Gouranga” spammer! – );
- several political spams from all ends of the spectrum.

In my opinion, these are all spam, and I think most people would agree. This is also how the SpamAssassin project defines it: .

You may consider yourself above this, given that you feel strongly about the issues involved — but if someone has asked to be removed from a list, it’s only reasonable to assume they mean it!

By: Dave Lugo Sat, 26 Feb 2005 00:01:13 +0000 Some more detail – to fill in the blanks:

I gave my email address a couple of years ago,
for a petition.

I asked them to remove me the last time they mailed me. At
that time, I thought the mailing wasn’t for the same purpose
as what I had given it to them for, and I complained.

I then received unsolicited bulk mail from them, and it
didn’t even give me an option to opt-out. The former is
spam, the second is stupidity.

So, sir. You spammed. It’ s not about content, it’s about

By: Dave Lugo Fri, 25 Feb 2005 23:55:00 +0000 Speech isn’t free when it comes postage due.


One you spammed.

By: Harry Porterfield Fri, 25 Feb 2005 23:12:01 +0000 slow night?

turn off your computer, get in your car, get your wife flowers, take the 101 home and take your wife out to dinner.